“You are the spawn of Satan and your writings his tool!” Sharon of Knoxville screamed in her email to me. Jacky from Atlanta said, “It is clear that you have never known true love or you would never have written that Eliseyan [sic] enjoyed sex with anyone else but her husband.” “Your book has no basis in reality.” Claimed John from Salt Lake City.
When I first received these and other emails of a similar vein, I was hurt. And then, I realized that the story I shared had made an impact on another. I wondered. If they hated my book so much, why did they bother to comment on it? It must have struck a chord within them, one that did not harmonize with their view of reality. But, what difference would that make? This is a fantasy novel and its setting is not even here on Earth let alone the culture of their homes. With that in mind, I looked to other authors’ writings, those of whom inspired me, and I noticed a pattern.
The first few books written by these authors are edgy and cause the reader to rethink their preconceptions and values. This is what hooks them in the first place. But, it seems that as an author becomes more popular, their writings become more mainstream. This is most likely due to the drive to sell more books because, in part, in our society, quantity is the definitive measure of success.
In one series in particular, in the first three books the main character (a female) is bisexual, has multiple partners and defines her own life. This series developed a cult following among the alternative young adult crowd which gradually spilled over into the mainstream market. There was a hiatus of over five years between the third and fourth books. I suspect that it was due to the pressures of the author needing to earn a living. When the next book in the series was published, the heroine becomes more conservative.
By book number six, all of the proclivities of the ‘younger’ character had been marginalized and portrayed as the foolishness of youth. The woman/girl/lady that I had found so compelling, now espoused the norm of this culture. I did not continue reading the series. It had become boring. Why do I want to read about the way things are here? I wondered aloud to a friend over lunch one day.
His response startled me. “Have you noticed how those who were the most radical in your high school are now the most conservative?”
I sat in silence for several minutes. He was right! “So, are you saying that as we age we buy into the status quo?”
“Who runs the world today?” he asked quietly and then answered his own question. “It was the hippies of the sixties… and they certainly do not want the younger generations to experience the freedoms that they did because it would threaten their situation.”
I thrashed his opinions in my head. I thought that those who had lived in defiance of authority would honor their heritage by encouraging others to follow in their footsteps. Instead, the opposite had occurred because they knew how to suppress the very same actions they had done.
I come back now to the topic of my blog, ‘Writer’s Sellout’. I believe that authors begin to bow to their audience in an attempt to be popular, to make the fans happy. This results in greater sales of their books while their stories no longer hold true. That is the reason I lost interest in a number of series! I realized.
The books I write are not about this planet or any society that exists here. Vastly different physical, cultural and spiritual laws apply. The stories are those of the characters and are not subject to the limitations that popular opinion may hold. If I acquiesced to that norm, I would be doing them a disservice. No, I would be making their lives a lie. I hope that I never fall to writer’s sellout. I share stories to take one out of this space and to, for a brief time, allow one to live a life with a different set of rules.